Reunion 2018
by Jem Tugwood
October 6/7

Hi Dickie,

Thought I’d put pen to paper so to speak or rather finger to keyboard and say a few words about the annual reunion gig which although not as many members turned out this year the event was still a success and as usual it was a pleasure to meet up with colleagues young and old.

Pam and I arrived in Portsmouth at about 1500 on Saturday 6th October and made ourselves known at the Home Club before making our annual visit to Gun Wharf for a shopping expedition and a drink or two at a local hostelry, unfortunately nothing took Pam’s eye and so we returned to the Home Club where we met up with 'Olly' Oliver and Dave Seed.

At 1930 we made our way to HMS Nelson and the mess where we met up with several old friends from times past namely Len Lewry Baz Pettitt ( now full recovered from his serious illness earlier in the year ) Chris Preston, Graham Verroken, Dave Stockham, Merv' Durrant, Pete Yetman, Pete Scott and Mark Upton, there are many others whose names I cannot recall at present for which I apologise (I think it’s a case of “old timers” setting in!) So nice also to see fellow members with their wives.

The display was as usual, second to none, this year the band slow marched into the arena to “Road to Revelation” composed by “Two Steps From Hell”, me neither, but more about that later, the band then broke into quick time to “The Gladiator’s Farewell” a cracking march by H L Blankenburg a German composer with over a 1000 marches to his name.

Breaking into slow time we listened to “Finnish Cavalry” march by Hackenberger/Deisenroth. From slow to quick time and into a March called 'Trombone King' by Karl King, this featured three Trombones and according to some notes I read about it, it was not a march featuring Trombones but a fun march for Trombone players and our three that night certainly enjoyed themselves, and so did we, it was great.

The end of this cracking march brought us to the drum routine and once again the Corps of Drums didn’t disappoint, they were brilliant, as I’ve said before, how they remember all of what they do baffles me but they do it and do it brilliantly.

The finale gave us 'Norwegian Pirate' by yes you’ve got it “Two Steps from Hell”, followed by evening hymn 'Men of Honour' by Thomas Bergerson a Norwegian composer and co founder of the music company “Two Steps from Hell.”

I Googled Two Steps from Hell and found that the discography is absolutely phenomenal, thousands of compositions for hundreds upon hundreds of films with quite a large percentage of them being Sc Fi. it’s worth looking up.

Sunset, Rule Britannia and the National Anthem brought the Beat Retreat to a very nice conclusion where Lt Col Ridley Principal Director of Music Royal Marines explained that the Band Service now has 2 Lt Cols the second being Lt Col J R Burcham SO 2 (Band). The Pdm also spoke about the need to ensure that Mental Health and well being was recognised nationwide and should be within the Band Service too.

The Beat Retreat was under the direction of WO1 Bandmaster Ivan Hutchinson and the Drum Major was the immaculate Colour Sergeant Bugler Chris Mace (Drum Major Training).

The band marched off to the Regimental march of the Royal Marines A Life on the Ocean Wave and so after much well earned applause we made our way back to the mess.

I would add that Col. Burcham’s father was in the Sussex Police which I joined when I retired from the band service, I knew him quite well and I understand he mentioned me to Jason. The rest of the evening was spent in the mess where we were entertained by a first class group playing music for just about everyone. The chefs did a grand job again with the Beef Madras and the Chicken Korma. Our thank you’s should also go to the bar staff who made sure we didn’t have to wait too long for service during a very busy evening.

The following day we made our way to Portsmouth Cathedral for our annual Memorial Day service this year being very relevant because of the 100 year anniversary of the end of the 1st World War and the selection of music was a splendid way of assisting in the pre service music.

First we had the pleasure of listening to the Fifth Symphony 2nd movement by Franz Schubert 1797-1828, next up was a beautiful piece called Cortège from Behind the Lines by Cecil Coles 1888-1918, who served in WW1 as Bandmaster for Queen Victoria Rifles, he was killed by sniper fire while helping to recover casualties on 26th April 1918.

The next piece was named Heroic Elegy (for soldiers) by Ernest Farrar 1885-1918, he was organist and composer, who had studied under Stanford and taught Gustav Holst, he enlisted with the Grenadier Guards in 1915 and died in the battle of Epehy Ranssoy 18th September 1918 having been at the front for only 2 days.

The Music was played by the Combined Orchestra from the Band’s of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth (Royal Band) and Collingwood conducted by Lt Col Ridley RM Pdm. We also had the pleasure of listening to the magnificent choir conducted by Dr. David Price. The Organist was Mr Sachin Gunga.

I do however have a small comment to make being, when the choir were singing the Jubilate Deo we had once again the horrendous sound of the Trumpets de Maris situated high up in I think the Nave, these are played on special events but I fail to understand how they could possibly be considered an enhancement of what is already a beautiful sounding choir, these Trumpets should, as far as I’m concerned, be EX Trumpets!!

Towards to end of the service Lt Col Burcham recited (from memory) 7 verses of the Ode of Remembrance “ For
the Fallen” which contains some memorable lines including “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and, in the morning, we shall remember them”.

These words were written by Lawrence Binyon 1869-1943, he was a civilian and wrote these words less than a month after the start of the fighting in 1914.

Last but not least but very important, I was speaking to some friends after the service and we all agreed that the orchestra sounded absolutely superb, the strings played beautifully, the woodwind sounded brilliant and the brass were absolutely outstanding, thank you all for a truly memorable Memorial Day service and Reunion.

Previous | Home | Next  1 - Photo  by Richard (Dickie) Valentine  1 - Photo  by Richard (Dickie) Valentine
Richard Valentine -1996 - 2017 © - All rights reserved